David Granger fired the first salvo in pursuit of his historical mission to misinterpret and revise Guyana’s contemporary political history. In the course of a lecture delivered at the Parliament Building on July 6, 2012, he declared: “There is no Father of the Nation, Independence cannot be attributed to a single person or to a single party.” With this single sentence Granger dismissed out of hand any role for both Cheddi Jagan and Forbes Burnham; by the same token, he distanced himself from Burnham, his benefactor and Founder Leader of the party he now heads.
A mere three years later, Amna Ally speaking at a ceremony hosted by the Women’s arm of the PNC on August 7, 2015 contradicted Mr Granger. She publicly hailed Burnham as “the Father of the Nation”.
It was the politics of deception at work.
In the same month and year to mark the same occasion but at a different venue, President Granger made a 90º about turn, probably to appease the Nortons and other hardline Burnhamites, who had expressed publicly their disagreement with Mr Granger’s earlier “Father of the Nation” statement. Praising Burnham, this is what Granger had to say: “Guyanese, are heirs of a rich legacy bequeathed by Forbes Burnham… we draw strength from our former leader’s exemplary record and renew our collective effort to continue his life’s work and to create a good life for all Guyanese.”
Continuing his historical mission to dictate the course of history and to provide his own interpretation of Guyana’s political history, speaking at a President’s College graduation ceremony in November 2015, Mr Granger declared that Guyana needs a “Second Independence”. He stated that: “The independence movement was ‘incomplete’ it left many citizens languishing in the shadow of dependency with its poverty, prejudices and political partisanship.”
Mr Granger completely and consciously side-stepped the programme and policies implemented by the PPP from 1957 to 1964, and more importantly, those implemented from 1992 to 2015.
Mr Granger now sees himself cast in the role of Sir Galahad who has taken on the mantle of saving Guyana from the “four horsemen” which he so fondly keeps reminding his audiences about. Further, he assumed another mantle beginning in 1966, since, as far as he is concerned, neither Jagan nor Burnham played any significant role whatsoever during the period 1957 to 1964 and from 1964 to 1992 and later from 1992 to 2015 while the PPP was in office.
At the ceremony marking the 49th Anniversary of Guyana’s Independence held at the Independence Arch at Brickdam, Mr Granger praised to the skies one Theophilus Lee, who he claimed played a major role in the Guyanese people’s struggle for universal adult suffrage ‒ a rather far-fetched and obscurantist approach to Guyanese political history. It was a falsehood which could not survive the test of a Guyanese history lesson or scrutiny of British Guiana’s historical records.
It astounded many that Mr Granger would scrape the barrel searching for an obscure nonentity like Lee, a turncoat who openly supported pro-colonial policies against the citizens of the then British Guiana. It came as a surprise, therefore, that Mr Granger did not use the occasion to name the Brickdam Arch after Theophilus Lee as he is wont to do.
But this was not to be the end of the revisionist and obscurantist approach to Guyana’s contemporary political history. In fact, on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of our country’s Independence, Mr Granger was at it again. This time he delved deep into his party’s album in search of a hero whom perhaps Burnham himself never liked anyway. Thus, he came up with the name Eugene Correia.
The question was, where was the name to be placed? A location had to be found to assign the name and, after all, what better place can there be than the Ogle International Airport. The President therefore took it upon himself to sell the name and to publicly justify the name being emblazoned atop the main terminal building at the Ogle Airport. In this way, Mr Granger opened a can of worms, all hell broke loose, and the proposal became mired in controversy from the very outset, but there was no turning back.
Eugene Correia belonged to privileged and propertied class of the then British Guiana. Following the removal of the PPP government as a result of the suspension of the constitution by the colonial power he was appointed a member of the 1954 interim government.
Correia belonged to the National Democratic Party (NDP) which fought the PPP in the 1953 elections. Correia’s party was closely associated with the League of Coloured People (LCP), a party that appealed to African nationalism. Correia, along with others, opposed the Rice Farmers’ Security of Tenure Ordinance.
According to Cheddi Jagan: “The Ordinance sought to help rice farmers during droughts and floods and to secure and protect their rights. For a landlord who did not keep drains and trenches free from bush, the penalty was again, that the tenant would vacate the land. The landlord deliberately did not uphold the rules of good estate management. And vacating the land was the last thing the tenant wanted to do – the law was of no value to him”.
So much for the “admirable role” played by Eugene Correia. Rice farmers today should take note of these historical facts as they continue to struggle for survival fifty years later.
Guyana can look forward to more of these brazen and disrespectful acts as we move towards celebrating the 50th Anniversary of our country’s independence.
People’s Progressive Party